Nunavut passes law to join suit against opioid companies
Bill 28, the Opioid Damages and Health Care Cost Recovery Act, given assent on Nov. 9
A bill to help the Government of Nunavut go after pharmaceutical companies through the courts for alleged negligence and predatory marketing is now law.
Bill 28, the Opioid Damages and Health Care Cost Recovery Act, received assent in the legislative assembly on Nov. 9, six days after it was proposed.
According to Justice Minister David Akeeagok, the purpose of Bill 28 is to preserve Nunavut’s ability to join a lawsuit against drug companies to recover damages and health-care costs arising from opioid-related illnesses and deaths.
The suit is being led by the government of British Columbia.
“Without the bill, certain claims could be barred by the expiry of limitation periods under the Limitation of Actions Act,” he said earlier this month.
Currently, the Nunavut government along with the other provinces and territories is in negotiations with drug companies to recover past and future health-care costs arising from the companies’ alleged negligence and predatory marketing of opioid products, he said.
Without the legislation, Nunavut would have risked being excluded from the class action certification, which the Supreme Court of British Columbia is scheduled to hold a hearing for on Nov. 27, Akeeagok said.
The suit alleges opioid manufacturers, distributors and consultants used deceptive marketing to increase sales of opioids, and this has resulted in increased rates of addiction and overdose.
It names more than 40 opioid manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors as defendants.
The minister compared the bill to a similar Nunavut law that was enacted to recover health-care costs from companies related to tobacco use.
“Preserving the right to sue the drug companies is also necessary to allow Nunavut to continue negotiations with the drug companies to try to reach an out-of-court settlement,” Akeeagok said.